Thursday, 30 August 2007

Summer is leaving I reckon

It was a true pre-autumn day today. Still warm ish sun had to share the day with quite a bit of a chill. Fortunately either yesterday or a day before there was no rain and I had some really pleasant teaching sessions at Ealing.
Today, Columbus, who probably feels much better in colder weather than scorching heat, showed me he is a clever boy and worked on a chambon in an exemplary fashion. More on here.
I was also shown his pictures from a show and couldn't help but put it one here. It's a picture of a picture so quality isn't good but...


Monday, 27 August 2007

Bank Holiday weekend... almost over!
Mother nature decided to bless us mortals with an absolutely lovely weather. The sun didn't stop shining throughout the weekend and I really hope we do have a little bit of summer left to enjoy!

On Saturday I set off to Middlesex to teach and to school Columbus. Poor guy was sweating like mad in the height of the temperatures - more here.
Rosie and Helen were a little lazy during a week so I decided to make sure they know what hard work is and we conducted a rather demanding lunge session concentrating on position and balance of the rider. Helen did very well! She did have a funny expression on her face when I took her stirrups to the jockey length but she was well pleased with herself in the end ;)

Sunday was spent with my darling monster leasuring around our nearby, beautiful park, reading and marathon watching of Lost!

Bank Holiday Monday - I have no idea why but I was mega dopey today! First, I took the train which was an hour earlier than arranged and I only realised that half way through. Thankfully it wasn't a problem in the end. Pony B. decided he was too good on Thursday and he was not going to play a push button pony every day! It could have had something to do with the poles we scattered all over the arena to get him used to them though...;) Suffice to say he was not relaxed and behaved as if the poles where magnets either drawing him in or pushing away with some mysterious power. The funny bit was that he seemed to change his charge every few minutes and it was quite a guessing game whether he was going to be drawn in or pushed away. Go figure! as my American friend say ;)

Pic. above: Pony B. in trot (click on it to enlarge)

Wilastra, on the other hand, worked very well. There is really something incredible in the amount of positive energy that is pumped into riders veins due to a good training session! Riding should certainly be classified as a drug! To read the report from today's session click HERE.

That surge of enjoyment certainly doesn't cure dopiness though! I was given a lift to the station and once there I realised I left my ticket and home keys in my jacket back at the yard. Hmm, it was not a nice view to watch my train leaving without me!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Tue, Wed & Thursday

The last few days were rather busy and as I am feeling a little under the weather I had to put quite a lot of effort into getting up in the morning! Both Tuesday and Wednesday I spent teaching until 9pm in a pouring rain and no, I am not looking forward to the winter. I got a few new riders whose skills are above avarage riding school clients and we challenged the school horses making them open their eyes a little wider and enjoy the change.
Today started in a similar fashion and my bicycle and I were drenched by the time I got to the office. Thankfully the three hours I spend there are usually enough to dry my clothes ;) After shifting some paperwork about, making some phone calls and generally wasting my time on sorting someone else's mess I set off back home and towards the much nicer part of the day.
The rain did not stop and it was getting chilly so I put a coat on and took some more warm stuff with me.
An hour later I stepped out of the train in Buckinghamshire and was greeted by a lovely hot sunshine and a true summer afternoon!
To top up my uplifted spirit Wilastra worked beautifully (more HERE) today (well, apart from making an idiot out of me in canter transitions;)).
Pony B. gave me a marvelous ride too, he is such a great character to work with.

Monday, 20 August 2007


Young Wilastra put me through my paces today and made sure I stayed on top of things but I am pleased with our today's session as a whole. You can read more on Wilastra's training whereabouts on her own Training Diary.
Pony B. also gave a good ride. We did some tiny jumping and he is a joy to jump with one little exception...well, he is a clever pony and he likes to remind you that the arena is big and there is no reason for jumping silly looking fences!
I am quite happy with his schooling today nevertheless. Jumping definitely gives an edge to his canter work which became rounder and more active as we went. He also beautifully took me to fence when I jumped for the last time.
Some people have the theory that it is easier to re-train the horse that runs away than the one that stops. I actually prefer those that stop than the last minute runners. We will see how it goes with B. :) I might take him for some clear round jumping next month if we manage to negotiate a half an hour slot! ;)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

My first XC schooling with young Wilastra

It was a really good day today. I set off to Buckighamshire in the morning to school a pony and to take my training project, Wilastra, to a XC schooling session at RoseHill. Pony worked very nicely and we even managed to finish before the rain started.
Once pony was happily back in his stable I loaded Wilastra and we headed to RoseHill. We got there about 20 minutes before our time but should we knew that milady was going to have a real issues about a new place we would have left much earlier!
Well, the place turned out very busy with about 10 horses on a tiny car park and Wilastra was not too happy about it. She pranced about and tried to chat loudly to the horses leaving for the xc ;) It took a while to take her boots off and tack up as she could only manage about 2 seconds of immobility.
I decided not to bother with trying to make the time and spent 40 minutes just walking her around the fields and lunging next to the fences. She was fine with that and finally settled. She is a very sweet person and even when she was jogging all over the place she seemed to want to stay close to me and looked to me for reassurance.
Once I was happy she was in a better frame of mind I walked up the XC fields where she stayed close to me and didn't object to anything until the very end. We jumped a few fences taking a distance lead from other horses and she definitely enjoyed the whole experience. The hilly, undulated ground must have been really difficult for her but she really tried to please. Her jump feels really powerful and is rather unseating which is hopefully a promise of good things to come!
I really like the gangly monster and we have a plan to take her out every couple of weeks. I am sure that with time she will be much happier and easier to manage; she was 100% calmer in the end and loaded beautifully.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Wilastra's first hack with me

Somehow, Wilastra's owner and I, managed to fit a lovely long hack in between a couple of afternoon showers. We even experienced some lovely sunny moments and I must say that Buckinghamshire countryside is truly a treat! The idea was for me to get acquainted with the young mare out of doors and away from artificial environment of the arena.
Wilastra started off a little short and unsure and her stride was very careful. Although she learns very quickly and it is easy to forget how young she is there is still a lot for her to be confident with. She does not like the slopes and is very watchful going down the hill. She hesitates slightly to lengthen the stride going down the slope but conquering the hills up is her worst play at the moment. We went up fairly steep hill and bless her young soul she must have taken the smallest steps in the universe and couldn't quite figure out how to climb the monstrous slope! I sat quietly and gave her all the time in the world to find her bearings and locate her long legs. She will be hacked a lot in the next few months and given as many chances as possible to acquire better awareness of her own body when faced with changing terrain.
I would also like her to be much more responsive off the legs but I am pretty sure this will come in time once she is stronger and can deal with her own powerful paces.
We did about 40 minutes walking with some trots in between and a few canters. Her walk became better and better and not surprisingly her 'home walk' was great. The trot work still needs a lot of practise and attention but is absolutely fine for her stage. She keeps fairly steady round outline easily and when she looses it it is mainly due to balance issues.
There are not many things that spook her, she does look interested and focused on new things but is easily convinced that there are no monsters around! We passed some tractors, vans, other horses, bicycles (most exciting for young lady!) and despite pricking her ears and looking all pretty she didn't bat an eyelid! I was very pleased with her.
All this is not to say she cannot be spirited...during the first canter I let her choose her own rhythm and didn't ask for much. She kept it at a good gear and it felt powerful. The second canter we did on a lovely, freshly cut field and I just couldn't stop myself from checking whether she would go a little faster. I put a leg on and yes, she loved it ! It was only a short stretch but it felt good and she was prancing about once I pulled up, blowing the air out loud, her tail up as if to say: 'Hey, did you see THAT! It was me!'.
Pictured is Wilastra back home munching on her Top Spec goodies and looking pleased with herself :)
We are off to a XC schooling on Saturday, let's hope young lady behaves herself and we are both back in one piece!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Notification of self-employment

The result of me spending an hour with an accountant today is a Notification of Self employment form being all filled in and ready to be sent off to the Contribution Agency (Inland Revenue). It is sitting on my desk now in front of me and I will post it tomorrow.
It will be just great to give away loads of my hard earned money to the people who have no blind idea about horses!
The accountant must have thought I was completely and utterly crazy going for it...;)

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Riding arrengements

I went over to school Wilastra (my Project Horse) and she was a typical baby! It's funny how young horses can make you feel- like you barely know how to ride! Anyway, she worked nicely on a chambon on the lunge, was very responsive to the poll pressure and you could see exactly which muscles are worked on her skinny neck. She has a bouncy, upward bound trot which needs a little more ground covering to be good and after 15 minutes on the lunge she started relaxing and tracked up fairly nicely. We have problems with trot to walk transitions as she is mega keen and thinks walk is a waste of time. Funnily enough CB has exactly the same attitude and it will be interesting to watch them both learning.
My ridden session on Wilastra was not too good yesterday. She was quite tired after the lunge session and I think also a little confused by my riding style. Wilastra's owner and I are trying to merge our ways of riding for Wialstra's good and I am sure we will get there in the end. I like horses to be light and very responsive and don't like too much tugging on the mouth. At the moment W. can fight for her head a little when she is feeling full of beans and is used to stronger hold on the reins and lower hand position of the rider than I ride in. If I imitate the position she is used to she goes well so I will continue that for a while and then try to slowly make sure she accepts both ways. In the end of the day, she will be for sale at some point so it is good for her to be able to respond to both lighter and slightly stronger contact with similar confidence.

Somewhere on the way I have also acquired one more schooling project - a lovely Connemara pony which I will be calling B. for the purpose of writing this blog. I will be riding B. twice a week and I am looking forward to our next session on Thursday.
B. is generally well schooled but is mostly used for hacking and Trek competitions so can be a little lazy (in a way he can 'skip' on effort;) and smart and not quite on the job when in the arena.

I am rather pleased with all the arrangements which give me 5 hours a week of challenging riding - exactly what I need right now!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Olympia London International Horse Show 2007

My dear friend Candace and I have finally sorted the tickets for this year's Olympia!!! The prices are not the lowest and as much as we would love to see more we decided to stay with Tuesday evening with its FEI WORLD CUP™ DRESSAGE - GRAND PRIX FREESTYLE TO MUSIC and Saturday's THE ROLEX FEI WORLD CUP™ .
Olympia is the highlight of London's winters for me so I am rather looking forward to it now! Not to mention the joy of browsing through all the stands with horsey stuff :)

According to the Olympia's website "The BBC plans to show the Puissance live (Friday 21st December) and the Rolex FEI World Cup presented by H&M live (Saturday 22nd December)."


Self-employment, taxes and one smart Cleveland Bay

The date of registration of my self- employment is coming fast so I am trying to gather some useful information. I have arranged for a meeting with an accountant on Tuesday so he can tell me nicely about the glorious world of taxes, claiming expenses and all the things I would rather not know but have to. Can't wait..not!

My poor old chambon has served me well for a number of years but since it is pretty much in pieces now I decided to treat myself to a new one. Looked through various online tack shops but they all seem to be selling the same version which I didn't like. I was looking for something exactly like my old one and I finally found it at Old Mill saddlery. It arrived very quickly and it is exactly what I wanted.
Cleveland Bay was the first one to have a chance to wear it and I am hoping I can improve his way of going in a few months. Our first session was good, he responded well and lunged very nicely. There is now 'only' the challenge of stopping him from constant jogging (when he should be walking), relaxing his neck and teaching him to flex...apart from all the other things he needs to learn! He is a lovely looking horse though and I am looking forward to seeing and feeling the changes appearing due to the training. He has a nice, ground covering walk, not too good a trot which I hope to work on, and a fairly decent canter. Considering trot is workable I am keeping my fingers crossed. Who knows, he might be my 'second' competition project...;)
The Project number 1 is in progress and I will have an update on our training programme very soon. For now she is doing some flatwork at home and we will go for a xc schooling on Saturday.

Pictured is one very tired CB after our session in the sun.He is a lucky boy though; he was given an excellent sponging down by his owner.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The world of ponies and first time riders

'Welcome to the mad house' said a little girl to me on Wednesday while I was patiently trailing yet another pony for my yet another little client. I think the perception of madness indeed changes in time as for me teaching at Ealing is as far from it as possible. Considering some other jobs in equine industry I have done a few hours with teenagers on fairly obedient ponies is quite a peaceful experience.

As from next week I will be doing ten hours a week there which should significantly boost my countdown to the required 500 hours.

Friday, 3 August 2007

August already!

I am not quite sure where all these July days have gone! At least the weather decided to bless London with its sunny spells and warm temperatures - delightful :)
I had a fairly busy week, the next one looks to be even busier and the one after that even more so if that at all possible. The very good news is that from the 14th August I will have two teaching days at Ealing which should boost my weekly hours significantly. I have also managed to scrape some savings and am pondering on booking the next BHS exam in October. The costs are rather shocking more so because I decided to also do an Equine Specific First Aid course in September and get my CRB check done. All this successfully behind me and I will be able to put my name on the BHS register (which has a bonus of a good insurance!).

Today I also received an interesting email from a lady who runs her own stud and was looking for a rider to train and compete her home bred sports pony. I really wish there was more hours in a day and more days in a week so I could make use of all the great opportunities that are out there!
Unfortunately there are plenty of limitations and I had to say no :(
Oh, well, one day when I have my own yard and can keep a few horses there some things should be easier to organise :)
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